WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Attorneys in the James Staley capital murder case began presenting evidence and arguments on whether Staley can get a fair and impartial trail in Wichita County.
Staley is accused of the murder and abuse of 2-year-old Wilder McDaniel in 2018. He also faces a charge of tampering with evidence.
At last report, the hearing was still underway with no decision expected on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
Defense attorneys said news conferences called by the police and Wichita County District Attorney John Gillespie also added to the intense interest in the case and that Gillespie made improper statements and released information still under investigation.
The prosecution said that information was available to the public through court records.
Wichita Falls Police Department Chief Manuel Borrego testified it is not uncommon to hold a news conference on arrests in major cases.
The case is assigned to Senior District Judge Everett Young of Tarrant County.
Judge Young said this morning he sees no compelling need to require Gillespie to testify on statements and actions he took.
Staley’s lawyers said the case has received more extensive and prejudicial coverage and social media coverage than any local case in years.
The father of the victim, Bubba McDaniel, was also called to the stand and asked by the defense how many posters, signs and shirts were made for the Justice 4 Wilder campaign.
McDaniel was also asked about alleged violent threats he made against Staley on social media and protests in front of the courthouse that were reported by the media.
Defense attorneys argued Staley would not be safe if a trial was held in Wichita County. They also pointed to the Kody Lott murder trial that was moved out of the county, and said this case has received more publicity than that one.
Prosecutors pointed to a number of other trials where jury’s were seated and verdicts were returned despite extensive media coverage.
It is unclear when the judge will make a ruling.